The SourceAmerica® IDEATE competition (formerly called the SourceAmerica Design Challenge) is a unique national engineering challenge. It invites motivated high school and college engineering students from across the country to innovate ways to improve workplace inclusion and opportunities for people with disabilities.
Imagine, Design & Evaluate Assistive Technologies for Employment
IDEATE gives students a competition with purpose: to create assistive technology that increases workplace success for people with disabilities. Student teams collaborate with a person with a disability in their community to evaluate a need and develop an innovative solution that makes a real difference. What makes IDEATE more unique: judging is based on demonstrable results, not technological sophistication. The winning projects solve challenges in the workplace and increase the earning potential of people with disabilities, through scalable and repeatable inventions that can be used across the country.
Registration for the 2021-2022 competition is now closed. Fill out this form to get the latest information about the IDEATE Engineering Competition.
We’re looking for engineering students ready to make a meaningful difference.
IDEATE gives you the opportunity to pioneer workplace technology in collaboration with a person with disabilities.
This is an engineering competition that rewards you for being curious, imaginative, detail-oriented, and collaborative. The winning technologies are created in a team environment that includes people with disabilities, and are awarded by how effectively they increase opportunities and innovate the workplace. Get ready to expand your perspective and transform the future of employment.
IDEATE gives you the chance to develop assistive technology that improves workplace efficiency and increases opportunities for people with disabilities in your community and around the country. Just a few of the benefits:
- Get real-world engineering experience by developing people-centered design solutions
- Improve the workplace for people with disabilities
- Create a positive, lasting impact on community-based nonprofit agencies that employ people with disabilities
- Win monetary awards
- Participate in congressional advocacy to raise awareness of the challenges people with disabilities face in the workplace
We encourage you to seek out and collaborate with a person with disabilities in your community. That person can serve as your subject matter expert (SME) and be a key member of your team in designing a technology that helps in the workplace.
Find employers in your area with our NPA locator
A team includes a coach, students, and a person with a disability. One of the students must be selected as the team leader. The team leader will register the team.
Your team is responsible for coming up with the project idea. It is strongly encouraged to reach out to your local nonprofit community to find a subject matter expert (SME) and come up with a worthwhile project. Pick one that is achievable and can be used by different people across a wide range of work settings.
Find employers in your area with our NPA locator
If you need additional guidance, just contact the IDEATE Team at IDEATE@sourceamerica.org.
There is no cost to join the competition! Once entered, your project’s cost can vary, depending on resources. Typically, teams are responsible for cost of their project. If cost is an issue, please let us know and we’ll try to help!
Your students can change the workplace. Starting here.
IDEATE is a life-changing challenge that inspires your students to push boundaries.
The SourceAmerica® IDEATE engineering competition celebrates the pursuit of innovative thinking that has real-world implications. It combines an authentic, hands-on learning experience that uses STEM skills and ties directly to the community. It connects your students with people with disabilities to solve workplace challenges in exciting new ways. IDEATE is an opportunity for your students to challenge themselves to profoundly improve workplace inclusion and earning potential for people with disabilities.
IDEATE gives students the opportunity to dive into a collaborative, hands-on competition where they develop assistive technology that improves efficiency and opportunity in the workplace for people with disabilities. The winning inventions tie workplace improvements to STEM skills. Benefits include:
- Real-world engineering experience
- Opportunity to improve the earning potential for people with disabilities
- Making a positive, lasting impact on community-based nonprofit agencies that employ people with disabilities
- Monetary awards
- Participation in congressional advocacy that raises awareness of workplace challenges faced by people with disabilities
There is no cost for students to join the competition! Once entered, the team's project costs can vary depending on resources. Typically, teams are responsible for the cost of the project. If cost is an issue, please let us know and we’ll try to help!
IDEATE (formerly known as the SourceAmerica Design Challenge) is a longstanding, widely recognized nationwide competition for motivated students that has increased workplace innovation and inclusion for people with disabilities.
IDEATE is a flexible program you can use in the classroom, as part of an extracurricular club, or as independent study.
Competition requirements align with common core and next-generation science standards.
Workplace improvements that include increases in productivity, earning potential, and job independence and accessibility. IDEATE prioritizes functional, useful designs over superficially technical ones. We care about results, not flash.
Help us by finding the next great engineers from your school by taking the first step:
2021 Winning Innovations
First Place College:
California State University, Los Angeles, and the National Taipei University of Technology
California State University, Los Angeles, and the National Taipei University of Technology project team designed a web-based data tracking platform that increases efficiency in the assembly process for employees with disabilities and helps managers spot areas needing attention.
First Place High School:
The Catlin Gabel School, Portland, OR
The Catlin Gabel team and On-the-Move PDX built a Ziploc bag opening and closing device called ZipBag—a safe and easy way for people with limb differences and lower dexterity to handle resealable bags. Utilizing foot pedals and a simple design, ZipBag requires the use of only one hand and a minimal amount of fine motor skills to operate.
Ready to Get Started?
Let us know you're interested by completing the form below. From there, we'll provide you with the information you need to take the next steps and register your team.
Interested as an Educator? All educators will receive helpful information to share with their students to inspire them to get involved.